Review: Lemony Snicket, Welcome to the Real World

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (Paramount Pictures 2004) offers an interesting update on Astrid Lindgrin's Pipi Longstocking. These are stories about kids trying to make sense of the adults around them and to survive the absence of adult sense. Lemony lacks the optimism of Pipi, filmed as it is in blacks, greys, and browns rather than the vibrant color of the latter. Lemony takes a close look at the unmitigated evil of which adults are capable; they are cruel or stupid rather than absent, as they are in Pipi.

In Lemony, adults are relentlessly dopey if they are not utterly evil--which is to say it's okay if bad things happen to good innocent kids so long as the bad things don't make the grown-ups wake up or--eek--go out of their way.

Such is the world of the three Baudelaire orphans and their coming-of-age nest eggs. The Baudelaire kids' parents have died in a suspicious fire, and they are alone in this relentlessly cruel and stupid world. Dopey or evil: so it goes. By the end of the movie, you can't tell the difference. On the one hand, the Baudelaire kids have Mr. Poe (Timothy Spall) the banker, who is trying to lodge them anywhere at all until they are old enough to receive their inheritance. How tedious that they keep reappearing on his to-do list.

On the other hand, they have Count Olaf (Jim Carrey), evil itself with rotting teeth, empty eyes, and a mind that can't stop thinking of ways to kill them that he might come into their fortune. In between, there's Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep), a neurotic grammarian who fears everything about the world from Realtors to the refrigerator that could fall on them if they get too close. Auntie shares with the other adults who are their guardians--until Olaf kills them--a failure to look life in the eye, to see a problem for what it is, and to deal with it responsibly. She is amusing because she is so familiar. There isn't a kid in the world who can't recall an adult who missed a clutch moment. (more)


  1. Anonymous9:13 PM

    I find this very untrue. Base your review off of the book, not the movie. You'll find a big difference.

  2. This is based on the movie, to be sure.


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